St John Vianney on Sin


Sin is a thought, a word, an action, contrary to the law of God.

By sin, my children, we rebel against the good God, we despise His justice, we tread under foot His blessings. From being children of God, we become the executioner and assassin of our soul, the offspring of Hell, the horror of Heaven, the murderer of Jesus Christ, the capital enemy of the good God. O my children! if we thought of this, if we reflected on the injury which sin offers to the good God, we would hold it in abhorrence, we would be unable to commit it; but we never think of it, we like to live at our ease, we slumber in sin. If the good God sends us remorse, we quickly stifle it, by thinking that we have done no harm to anybody, that God is good, and that He did not place us on the earth to make us suffer.

Indeed, my children, the good God did not place us on the earth to suffer and endure, but to work out our salvation. See, He wills that we should work today and tomorrow; and after that, an eternity of joy, of happiness, awaits us in Heaven…. O my children! how ungrateful we are! The good God calls us to Himself; He wishes to make us happy forever, and we are deaf to His word, we will not share His happiness; He enjoins us to love Him, and we give our heart to the devil…. The good God commands all nature as its Master; He makes the winds and the storms obey Him; the angels tremble at His adorable will: man alone dares to resist Him. See, God forbids us that action, that criminal pleasure, that revenge, that injustice; no matter, we are bent upon satisfying ourselves; we had rather renounce the happiness of Heaven, than deprive ourselves of a moment’s pleasure, or give up a sinful habit, or change our life. What are we, then, that we dare thus to resist God? Dust and ashes, which He could annihilate with a single look….

By sin, my children, we despise the good God. We renew His Death and Passion; we do as much evil as all the Jews together did, in fastening Him to the Cross. Therefore, my children, if we were to ask those who work without necessity on Sunday: “What are you doing there?” and they were to answer truly, they would say, “We are crucifying the good God.” Ask the idle, the gluttonous, the immodest, what they do every day. If they answer you according to what they are really doing, they will say, “We are crucifying the good God.” O my children! it is very ungrateful to offend a God who has never done us any harm; but is it not the height of ingratitude to offend a God who has done us nothing but good?

It is He who created us, who watches over us. He holds us in His hands; if He chose, He could cast us into the nothingness out of which He took us. He has given us His Son, to redeem us from the slavery of the devil; He Himself gave Him up to death that He might restore us to life; He has adopted us as His children, and ceases not to lavish His graces upon us. Notwithstanding all this, what use do we make of our mind, of our memory, of our health, of those limbs which He gave us to serve Him with? We employ them, perhaps, in committing crimes.

The good God, my children, has given us eyes to enlighten us, to see Heaven, and we use them to look at criminal and dangerous objects; He has given us a tongue to praise Him, and to express our thoughts, and we make it an instrument of iniquity – we swear, we blaspheme, we speak ill of our neighbor, we slander him; we abuse the supernatural graces, we stifle the salutary remorse by which God would convert us…. we reject the inspirations of our good guardian angel. We despise good thoughts, we neglect prayer and the Sacraments.

What account do we make even of the Word of God? Do we not listen to it with disgust? How miserable we are! How much we are to be pitied! We employ the time that the good God has given us for our salvation, in losing our souls. We make war upon Him with the means He has given us to serve Him; we turn His own gifts against Him! Let us cast our eyes, my children, upon Jesus fastened to the Cross, and let us say to ourselves, “This is what it has cost my Savior to repair the injury my sins have done to God.”

A God coming down to the earth to be the victim of our sins! A God suffering, a God dying, a God enduring every torment, because He has put on the semblance of sin, and has chosen to bear the weight of our iniquities! Ah, my children! at the sight of that Cross, let us conceive once for all the malice of sin, and the abhorrence in which we should hold it…. Let us enter into ourselves, and see what we ought to do to repair our past sins; let us implore the clemency of the good God, and let us all together say to Him, from the bottom of our heart, “O Lord, who are here crucified for us, have mercy upon us! You comest down from Heaven to cure souls of sin; cure us, we beseech You; cause our souls to be purified by approaching the tribunal of penance; yes, O God! make us look upon sin as the greatest of all evils, and by our zeal in avoiding it, and in repairing those we have had the misfortune to commit, let us one day attain to the happiness of the saints.”

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7 Responses to St John Vianney on Sin

  1. toadspittle says:

    “By sin, my children, we despise the good God. We renew His Death and Passion; we do as much evil as all the Jews together did, in fastening Him to the Cross..”

    …a little hyperbole here, surely? CP&S endorses some curious characters. Thinks Toad.


  2. Thank you for the post. It highlights the enormity of sin


  3. toadspittle says:


    Wouldn’t dear old St. John have loved this? You can see Blair is also having the time of his life!


  4. Jerry says:


    “By sin, my children, we despise the good God. We renew His Death and Passion; we do as much evil as all the Jews together did, in fastening Him to the Cross..”

    Another Vianney gem.

    Pope Benedict, who is a rather more careful thinker than the enthusiastic St Vianney explains the issue:

    “Now we must ask: who exactly were Jesus’ accusers? Who insisted that he be condemned to death? We must take note of the different answers that the Gospels give to this question. According to John it was simply “the Jews”.

    But John’s use of this expression does not in any way indicate – as the modern reader might suppose – the people of Israel in general, even less is it “racist” in character. After all, John himself was ethnically a Jew, as were Jesus and all his followers. The entire early Christian community was made up of Jews.

    The Temple aristocracy

    In John’s Gospel this word has a precise and clearly defined meaning: he is referring to the Temple aristocracy. So the circle of accusers who instigate Jesus’ death is precisely indicated in the Fourth Gospel and clearly limited: it is the Temple aristocracy – and not without certain exceptions, as the reference to Nicodemus (7:50ff.) shows.

    Barabbas’ friends

    In Mark’s Gospel, the circle of accusers is broadened in the context of the Passover amnesty (Barabbas or Jesus): the “ochlos” enters the scene and opts for the release of Barabbas. “Ochlos” in the first instance simply means a crowd of people, the “masses”. The word frequently has a pejorative connotation, meaning “mob”. In any event it does not refer to the Jewish people as such.

    Effectively this “crowd” is made up of the followers of Barabbas who have been mobilized to secure the amnesty for him: as a rebel against Roman power he could naturally count on a good number of supporters. So the Barabbas party, the “crowd”, was conspicuous while the followers of Jesus remained hidden out of fear; this meant that the vox populi, on which Roman law was built, was represented one-sidedly. In Mark’s account, then, as well as “the Jews”, that is to say the dominant priestly circle, the ochlos comes into play, the circle of Barabbas’ supporters, but not the Jewish people as such.

    “His blood be on us and on our children”

    When in Matthew’s account the “whole people” say: “his blood be on us and on our children” (27:25), the Christian will remember that Jesus’ blood speaks a different language from the blood of Abel (Heb 12:24): it does not cry out for vengeance and punishment, it brings reconciliation.

    It is not poured out against anyone, it is poured out for many, for all. ‘All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God … God put [Jesus] forward as an expiation by his blood’ (Rom 3:23, 25). Just as Caiaphas’ words about the need for Jesus’ death have to be read in an entirely new light from the perspective of faith, the same applies to Matthew’s reference to blood: read in the light of faith, it means that we all stand in need of the purifying power of love which is his blood.

    These words are not a curse, but rather redemption, salvation.”

    Extract taken from Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week by Pope Benedict XVI

    Vianney does have valuable things to say, but probably should be published along with explanatory footnotes these days.


  5. toadspittle says:


    Toad thinks he has said this before, but anyway, he heard it in Ohio some years back: “If Jesus was Jewish, how come he’s got a Mexican name?”
    which ranks with, “How come there was no room for Mary and Joseph at the inn?” Answer, “Because it was Christmas, of course!”
    Indications, if nothing else, of how the message gets distorted as it passes down the line?

    Cant wait to read St. John Vianny, part 98, on Excoriating Trolls.


  6. 000rjbennett says:

    “If the good God sends us remorse, we quickly stifle it, by thinking that we have done no harm to anybody, that God is good, and that He did not place us on the earth to make us suffer.”

    In the nineteenth century, apparently, people stifled any thought of remorse. In the twenty-first century, though, human beings go one step further and stifle any thought that there really could be any such thing as sin, or that God could exist at all.

    The only problem with that kind of thinking is that the effects of sin remain and are painfully visible in the world, no matter how much people may deny the reality of sin. And the existence of God? History – in particular the history of the last century – is littered with the wreckage of societies that tried to erase any thought of God from the minds of human beings.

    If our society should try to do the same thing, you wonder how long it will survive.


  7. toadspittle says:

    “In the nineteenth century, apparently, people stifled any thought of remorse. “

    Thinks Ooorjbennet. Toad thinks that careful reading of Dickens, Tolstoy (try “Resurrection” or “Karenina”) or Dostoyevsky (“Crime and Punishment” or “Karamazov”) to name but three, might dispel that notion. “Remorse” could fairly claim to be the cornerstone of a very great deal of Victorian art.

    “If our society should try to do the same thing, you wonder how long it will survive..”
    Doesn’t matter, thinks Toad. Societies don’t arrive and depart like trains. They all evolve into something else.
    The current one, he personally believes, is a little worse than it was 60 years ago, and considerably better than it was 60 years before that.
    But that is entirely subjective.
    In the Middle ages, the existence of God and sin were not disputed. yet life was, by our standards, unspeakably horrible.
    Would ooorjbennet sooner live in 1312, than 2012? Would anyone? We shall be told.


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